Virani sets out in the 4th round just with the hopes of getting back on track after a rough 3rd round. She spends the early part of the round flitting her jab at a distance, not as anything resembling a serious threat, but just a tool to keep the distance.
It doesn’t keep Michaela away for long as the German would like to continue her momentum from the previous round. She fakes a jab of her own to try to draw Virani’s guard up before trying to go to the body. The Canadian turns to her left and lowers her elbow to block the punch before backing off and resetting
Laila Ali: “MacVicar makes a calm defensive move under pressure early in this 4th round. Clearly she has decided that she is not the more powerful fighter and has chosen not to fight fire with fire. Michaela Sommer will have to work harder to punish the newly defensive Cobra.”
Michaela struggles to find the breakthrough as Virani pays a lot more attention to her defence. She’s not taking much return fire, but she’s not doing what she wanted to do either. The German champion decides that she needs to get a bit more advanced. She steps in and out of Virani’s range working to draw a punch. Then she throws to the head. After she’s trained Virani to the pattern, she breaks it, going with a long, solid left hand to the body from an angle that is hard to block. It lands in Virani’s midsection with a satisfying thud.
Michaela thinks: That’s the sweet sound of punishment.
Michaela continues to dictate the pace of the round. The German tries to prevent Virani from using her feet to escape, doing well to cut off the ring. When she is able to get in close with Virani, it is clear that the stout German fighter is far more powerful in tight.
‘Queen Kong’ shoves her way in tight, eating a jab from Virani to do so. Virani tries to extricate herself by fighting against Michaela, but does so unsuccessfully. Michaela gets the space she needs and digs a left hook into Virani’s midsection, eliciting another loud grunt from the Canadian.
Laila: “MacVicar is learning the hard way that not only does Michaela Sommer have the skill, she also has power in those shoulders to create openings in close. The Canadian will need to keep her distance if she has any hope of avoiding taking power shots from the German, who loves to dish them out.”
Virani thinks: I can’t keep taking these.
After piling in a wicked body shot, Virani and Michaela tussle in close quarters. The German pushes Virani into the ropes with ease, and the Canadian has to fight hard to prevent Michaela from getting her arms free. It almost resembles a sort of dance. It’s not a dance that Virani particularly wants to do, as she ends up with Michaela pushing her against the ropes, an uncomfortable spot to be.
Laila: “The Kong isn’t afraid to underscore her punches with a show of physical dominance. Not only is the German landing the bigger punches, she’s showing her opponent that she is just flat out stronger.”
Virani thinks: This is no fun at all. I hate this sort of grappling.
Michaela thinks: I think I can get in some good shots if I can keep getting in close like this.
Monique, the referee, eventually does come to Virani’s rescue and forces the fighters to break. Virani quickly takes advantage by extricating herself from along the ropes and getting back to the center of the ring.
Michaela tries to go back to work with the jab to the body, which has been effective for her so far. Virani stays tall but using her arm to block the punch, which may have already ended up just short of the target anyway.
Laila: “MacVicar is unusually passive in this round, but she is generally managing to stymie Michaela from doing her best work. I do wonder if Queen Kong has become a bit predictable in her target selection, prefering to almost work exclusively to the body in this round. It seems pretty clear from my seat that Virani has picked up on this tactic and has it well under control.
Virani thinks: A few years ago I would have taken this punch. Thanks to some long sessions in the gym, I’m a lot more prepared to make these sort of blocks.
Late in the round, Michaela seems to start to fade slightly as she seems content to sit with the lead that she has accumulated. Virani notices her opponent dropping off and decides to try to see if she can get some momentum going into the 5th. Virani slips to her right and gets an angle on Michaela, driving her right hand over Michaela’s lose guard and onto the German’s cheek, twisting her head around violently. A full right hand at full extension.
Laila: “MacVicar scores with an excellent right hand at perfect range. That one seems to have Sommer hurting a bit.”
Michaela thinks: I thought she might coast until the end of the round, but ouch.
Virani thinks: This is what I need to do in this fight…
Virani stays in range after landing a big right hand and Michaela doesn’t back away either. Virani, knowing that time is running out in the round, goes for her best weapon, the left hook. Michaela tries to reply with a right hook of her own. But Virani’s longer arms ensure that only her punch lands on target. The Canadian’s left hook distorts Michaela’s face as sweat flies from her head. The German retreats and puts her gloves up, but is unwilling to engage for the rest of the round.
Laila: “Virani may have stolen this round late with a pair of powerful punches that are surely to leave an impression on her opponent and the judges’ mind. After being passive for most of the round, MacVicar seemed to stun Sommer late with some of the best punches of her career.
After four competitive rounds, the fighters go back to their corners for a short rest. The television turns its focus to the special guest at ringside – Alesia Schumann! She’s interviewed by Laila Ali between rounds.
Laila: Alesia, thank you for taking the time for speaking with me. How do you see the fight so far?
Alesia: This is a close affair between two punchers who can really dish it out. I might see Michaela slightly ahead at this point because of the way she fought inside, with clean punches landed and loads of aggression. I know that Virani can adapt and hit from a distance as you have seen late in this round. It’s the kind of entertainment boxing fans want to have.
Laila: Michaela Sommer has been very impressive in this fight so far. Why has Germany become such a hotbed for turning out excellent boxers in recent years?
Alesia: Boxers need strong support from promoting companies, in the form of investment, handling and coaching, to thrive. We’ve done that in recent years by putting money on the line. They also need to see fighters succeeding on the world stage, and I have been trying hard to make that happen. Boxers need investment and inspiration. They can’t make it happen only by putting in the hours at the gym.
Laila: You are widely expected to have a showdown for the world title with Anastasia Orlova later in the year, how are you preparing for that?
Alesia: We’ll have a massive training camp to get ready for anything. I’ll have clever sparring partners to practice for Anastasia’s fighting style and we’ll make sure that I can fight as if every round would last 10 minutes. Anastasia will find out, very quickly, that she’s up against someone who knows what to do.
Laila: Anything else you’d like to say before we go back to the action?
Alesia: We have two worthy boxers in that ring. Enjoy the show.